Treatment of Stage IV (Metastatic) Breast Cancer
Most women with stage IV breast cancer are treated mainly with systemic therapy. This may include hormone therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or some combination of these. Local treatments such as surgery or radiation might also be used to help prevent or treat symptoms.
Stage IV cancers have spread beyond the breast and nearby lymph nodes to other parts of the body. When breast cancer spreads, it most commonly goes to the bones, liver, and lungs. It may also spread to the brain or other organs.
For women with stage IV breast cancer, systemic (drug) therapies are the main treatments. These may include:
- Hormone therapy
- Chemotherapy (chemo)
- Targeted drugs, such as trastuzumab (Herceptin) and pertuzumab (Perjeta)
- Some combination of these
- Surgery and/or radiation therapy in certain situations
Treatment can often shrink tumors (or slow their growth), improve symptoms, and help women live longer. These cancers are considered incurable.
Breast Cancer Early Detection and Diagnosis
Breast cancer is sometimes found after symptoms appear, but many women with breast cancer have no symptoms.
This is why regular breast cancer screening is so important.